“That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call ‘The Prestige.’ “
You may recognize that quote. It’s from Christopher Nolan’s infinitely superior magical film The Prestige, and I’m mentioning it because it’s all I wanted to watch instead of Now You See Me 2. I won’t go into the lousy title–Now You Don’t has been suggested as a better one, and it fits.
A film about magic is supposed to fool you. In The Prestige, it was all practical. If a man went in one door and entered into another, you understood it to be a trick, and yet you marveled at the ingenuity. You saw it happen, and you were desperate to know how they did it. The characters, not having computers, needed to make the machines that would pull it off. Unfortunately, these characters and filmmakers have computers, and so the illusion is all fake. When Jesse Eisenberg explains a trick, he fails to mention the computer renders involved.
The first film was the same way, but at least it wasn’t trying so hard to please you. It was electric, chemical, charming. The sequel gets electrocuted. Here, they’ve added new characters and new twists, and they call so much attention to themselves that it’s embarrassing. Lizzy Caplan, so brilliant in Masters of Sex, is given a poorly written token female role, and her character can’t help but tell you she’s more than that.
You’d have to be a fool to fall for this kind of magic. The filmmakers seem to have thought of the trick and devised the explanation later. I marveled at so few of the illusions, I thought there was something wrong. Maybe I was paying too close attention, or not enough.
This film has so many misdirections, you wonder if there’s even a trick at all.
Now You See Me 2 is in theaters now.